Re: How to fix a leaky (??) Hohner Special 20 (newby question)

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Posted by Jeremy Steinberg on December 08, 2002 at 06:50:21:

In Reply to: How to fix a leaky (??) Hohner Special 20 (newby question) posted by Peter on December 08, 2002 at 02:54:17:

. One of them, a Hohner Special 20 seems to be leaky...that is, you have to use quite some force before you hear the notes....if you blow or draw gently, the harp remains silent. Also, if I play it sounds 'windy', like air that is going around the reeds and not thru them......What is the problem? How can I fix this?

Hello Peter -

The special 20 has a plastic body (comb), like the LO, the golden melody, the johnsons, etc. That means it's already air-tight, because plastic bodies are non-porous, unlike wood bodies, which are inherently fibrous, and there fore not air-tight. The problem you mention is typical of the marine band, and some other wood-combed harps.

So, your problem is NOT the comb. You mention the harp is used. Your best bet is to pry off both cover plates (I believe they're attached with small brads, or nails, not screws), and look at the condition of the reed plates. Who played the harp before you? There could be something on the reed plates, stopping the reeds from vibrating. Can you get any notes to play, however weakly? If none of the reed are sounding, then you have the problem consistently, which could mean that, somehow, there are gaps between the brass reed plates, and the comb, in which case your harp is defective, and you should just get another. If it is just some notes, look at the reeds to see if they're aligned properly in the channels. Are the draw reed ends slightly above the plate surface? They should be. And the blow reed ends slightly below the surface of the plates? They should be.

Next, check Google search engine for 'diatonic harmonica repair'. Some nice sites will come up that you can visit, to begin to learn how to tinker with diatonics. This harp might be a good one to start with, because it may be inoperative! You will ruin several harps, as you learn. So broken ones are a good place to start!

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